THE DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES OF A TRUSTEE
- A Trustee must act independently in all matters coming before him, representing only the best interests of the Plan Participants in all decisions.
- A Trustee must not be unduly influenced by the Management of the Sponsoring Company, in terms of taking actions that would not be in the best interest of the Plan Participants. However, the Trustee must be reasonable and business-oriented, realizing that the long-term best interest of the Plan Participants is generally closely correlated with the long-term best interest of the Sponsoring Company. The Trustee must act with reasoned judgment in all decisions.
- The Trustee should carefully review all Plan documents for compliance with ERISA requirements, and be prepared to explain the requirements of the Plan to the Plan Participants and Management.
- The Trustee should retain outside ERISA counsel when appropriate to advise him as to the Plan requirements and legal issues.
- The Trustee is responsible for the annual valuation of the stock held by the ESOP. Likewise he is responsible for choosing and retaining a qualified valuator to perform this function.
- The Trustee should visit the Plan Participants and Sponsoring Company at least annually, or more often as necessary. At that meeting, the following should be accomplished:
- Meet with Plan Participants to:
- Discuss any perceived problems;
- Answer questions relating to the ESOP;
- Act as a sounding board for any problems or issues presented by the Plan Participants for consideration by the Board of Directors of the Sponsoring Company.
- Meet with Management and the Board of Directors of the Sponsoring Company to determine:
- The financial health of the Company;
- The short-term and long-term outlook for the Company and its products or services;
- Explain the requirements of the Plan, and how it might impact the Company;
- Report on the mood of the Plan Participants, to include any issues the Participants want presented to Management;
- Tour the Company facilities;
- Meet with the Sponsoring Company’s lead bank to determine its view of the Company’s financial health and outlook for the future;
- Be in attendance at the annual ESOP Committee meeting, and offer input as necessary.
- The Trustee should offer helpful suggestions to Management and the Plan Participants regarding technical issues that affect the ESOP. The Trustee should be involved and knowledgeable regarding all major issues relating to the Sponsoring Company.
- The Trustee must be available to Management and the Plan Participants regarding ESOP or Company issues that might affect the ESOP. The availability can often be via the phone, but on occasion must be in person.
- The Trustee is expected to maintain a high degree of knowledge and expertise regarding ESOPs. The Trustee should attend the annual National ESOP Conference in Washington D.C., as well as the mid-year Conference in Las Vegas. The Trustee should maintain other contacts in the professional community that will help ensure that he is knowledgeable regarding all current ESOP issues.
- The Trustee should provide a Repurchase Liability Study at appropriate intervals to ensure that sufficient funds will be available to honor the Company’s repurchase obligation.